Jerusalem – A prominent Israeli rabbi had harsh words for those who plan to travel to Meron to celebrate Lag B’Omer immediately after Shabbos, describing their enthusiasm to observe the holiday at the grave of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai as hypocritical and disgraceful.
Rabbi David Yosef, a member of Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah and son of Israel’s former chief rabbi Rav Ovadia Yosef, came out with his pronouncement at the start of his weekly shiur as reported by Israel news site Kikar HaShabat (http://bit.ly/2ps6eN4).
Rabbi Yosef noted that with Lag B’Omer falling out on Sunday this year, police officers, bus drivers and other support staff will be forced to perform forbidden work on Shabbos in order to prepare for the thousands of people who are expected to arrive in Meron immediately after Shabbos.
Rabbi Yosef suggested that Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron be postponed for several hours in order to avoid desecration of Shabbos, a procedure that is already used when the observance of Israel’s memorial and independence days on the fourth and fifth days of Iyar could potentially cause chilul Shabbos. That schedule was agreed to by religious and secular Jews when the State of Israel was established in 1948 and this year, both observances were postponed by one day because the fourth of Iyar fell out on a Sunday.
“The secular Jews agreed this to avoid any violation of Shabbos but the Charedim refuse to consider starting the Lag B’Omer celebrations a few hours later,” said Rabbi Yosef. “Why? Because it is a mitzvah from the Torah, it says specifically in the Torah that every single Jew is required to go on Lag B’Omer to Meron and to make a bonfire? And for this many, many police officers are required to desecrate the Shabbos?”
Rabbi Yosef noted that police participation is crucial at large gatherings in order to provide proper security, noting that two people died and dozens were injured as crowds surged at the 2015 funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2oU4Eoz).
The idea that Charedim who demonstrate against police for violating their religious rights are causing Jewish police officers to work on Shabbos is hypocritical said Rabbi Yosef.
“Instead of protesting against the police we need to protest against the Chareidim, against those who have created a new mitzvah that requires them to go to Meron the minute Shabbos ends,” thundered Rabbi Yosef.
In this instance, Charedim need to learn from secular Jews, observed Rabbi Yosef.
“The secular Jews understood that they needed to postpone national holidays if there was a conflict with Shabbos,” said Rabbi Yosef. “And we can’t do the same thing for Lag B’omer? What is going on here? This is hypocrisy. This is an embarrassment, a disgrace. Push the bonfire off until four AM. Close the whole compound in Meron and lock it up. We are going to observe a custom while causing thousands to violate the Shabbos?